Montcalm and Wolfe eBook

This eBook from the Gutenberg Project consists of approximately 771 pages of information about Montcalm and Wolfe.
The country of the New Yorker was New York, and the country of the Virginian was Virginia.  The New England colonies had once confederated; but, kindred as they were, they had long ago dropped apart.  William Penn proposed a plan of colonial union wholly fruitless.  James ii. tried to unite all the northern colonies under one government; but the attempt came to naught.  Each stood aloof, jealously independent.  At rare intervals, under the pressure of an emergency, some of them would try to act in concert; and, except in New England, the results had been most discouraging.  Nor was it this segregation only that unfitted them for war.  They were all subject to popular legislatures, through whom alone money and men could be raised; and these elective bodies were sometimes factious and selfish, and not always either far-sighted or reasonable.  Moreover, they were in a state of ceaseless friction with their governors, who represented the king, or, what was worse, the feudal proprietary.  These disputes, though varying in intensity, were found everywhere except in the two small colonies which chose their own governors; and they were premonitions of the movement towards independence which ended in the war of Revolution.  The occasion of difference mattered little.  Active or latent, the quarrel was always present.  In New York it turned on a question of the governor’s salary; in Pennsylvania on the taxation of the proprietary estates; in Virginia on a fee exacted for the issue of land patents.  It was sure to arise whenever some public crisis gave the representatives of the people an opportunity of extorting concessions from the representative of the Crown, or gave the representative of the Crown an opportunity to gain a point for prerogative.  That is to say, the time when action was most needed was the time chosen for obstructing it.

In Canada there was no popular legislature to embarrass the central power.  The people, like an army, obeyed the word of command,—­a military advantage beyond all price.

Divided in government; divided in origin, feelings, and principles; jealous of each other, jealous of the Crown; the people at war with the executive, and, by the fermentation of internal politics, blinded to an outward danger that seemed remote and vague,—­such were the conditions under which the British colonies drifted into a war that was to decide the fate of the continent.

This war was the strife of a united and concentred few against a divided and discordant many.  It was the strife, too, of the past against the future; of the old against the new; of moral and intellectual torpor against moral and intellectual life; of barren absolutism against a liberty, crude, incoherent, and chaotic, yet full of prolific vitality.

Chapter 2

1749-1752

Celeron de Bienville

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Montcalm and Wolfe from Project Gutenberg. Public domain.
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